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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for more weapons for Ukraine and stronger sanctions against Russia in meetings with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday.
Ahead of the talks, Kuleba said his agenda was “very simple — it has only three items on it: It’s weapons, weapons and weapons.”
The Group of Seven major industrialized countries Thursday condemned “atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces” in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, saying those responsible will be “held accountable.”
Spurred by the Russian forces' atrocities, countries in the Western alliance agreed to provide more arms.
With pressure mounting to further isolate Moscow, the Senate passed legislation Thursday to suspend normal trade relations with Russia, while the United Nations General Assembly suspended the country from the U.N. Human Rights Council, an outcome the U.S. had pushed for.
First Bushmaster vehicle is headed to Ukraine
CANBERRA, Australia — The first of 20 Bushmaster armored vehicles has left Australia for Ukraine, one week after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy specifically requested the Australian-manufactured four-wheel drives.
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport jet that can carry four Bushmasters left the east coast city of Brisbane for Europe on Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
The 20 Bushmasters cost 50 million in Australian dollars, which is $37 million in U.S. dollars.
The vehicles are in addition to $116 million in Australian dollars ($87 million in U.S. dollars) in military and humanitarian aid previously committed to Ukraine.
Zelenskyy requested Bushmasters when he made a video address to the Australian Parliament on March 31.
“And as soon as he asked, we said yes,” Morrison said.
Injured Fox News reporter pays tribute to colleagues killed in attack, details injuries
A Fox News journalist who was wounded in an attack outside Kyiv that left two colleagues dead described his injuries for the first time Thursday and paid tribute to colleagues.
The journalist, Benjamin Hall, said he had lost half of a leg, a foot and vision in one eye. One of his hands “is being put together,” and he lost much of his hearing, he said.
“But all in all I feel pretty damn lucky to be here — and it is the people who got me here who are amazing!” he said in a tweet that included a photo of himself in a hospital bed wearing an eye patch.
Hall also paid tribute to colleagues Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova and Pierre Zakrzewski, who were killed in the attack on their vehicle last month in Horenka.
Kuvshynova, 24, was a journalist working as a consultant with the network. Zakrzewski was a longtime war zone photographer whom Hall said he had traveled the world with.
“Working was his joy and his joy was infectious,” he said. “RIP.”
According to a database maintained by the Committee to Protect Journalists, seven journalists are confirmed to have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. With each, “crossfire” is listed as the type of death.
European Union nations OK embargo on coal imports
BRUSSELS — European Union nations have approved new sanctions against Russia, including an EU embargo on coal imports in the wake of evidence of torture and killings emerging from war zones outside Kyiv.
The ban on coal imports will be the first EU sanctions targeting Russia’s lucrative energy industry over its war in Ukraine, said an official on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not yet been made.
The EU ban on coal is estimated to be worth 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) per year. In the meantime, the EU has already started working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports.
Russia accused of using hunger as weapon in Ukraine
WHO verifies more than 100 attacks on Ukraine health care during invasion
Calling it a “grim milestone,” the World Health Organization said it has verified more than 100 attacks on health care in Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.
“We are outraged that attacks on health care are continuing. Attacks on health care are a violation of international humanitarian law,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.
The 103 attacks — 89 affecting health facilities and 13 affecting transportation, such as ambulances — have killed 71 people, the WHO said in a statement. Another 51 have been injured.
Russia attacked and invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. This week there have been new outrage and accusations that Russia has committed war crimes after photos and videos of corpses in civilian clothes found in the Kyiv-area town of Bucha emerged, as well as witness accounts of arbitrary executions of civilians by Russian forces.
A maternity hospital in Mariupol was attacked last month; the U.S. has cited that and other reported attacks on civilian targets in saying it has assessed that Russian forces have committed war crimes.
Russian has denied targeting civilians, and it has claimed that both the attack on the hospital and the horrific scenes in Bucha were “staged.”
'Working around the clock': Biden administration outlines U.S. security assistance to Ukraine
President Joe Biden's administration Thursday provided an overview of its assistance to Ukraine, releasing a Defense Department fact sheet that outlines how the U.S. government is "enabling critical success on the battlefield against the Russian invading force."
"The Administration is working around the clock to fulfill Ukraine’s priority security assistance requests, delivering weapons from U.S. stocks when they are available, and facilitating the delivery of weapons by allies and partners when their systems better suit Ukraine’s needs," the fact sheet reads.
The fact sheet goes on to list various military technologies and weapons the U.S. government has "committed" to Ukraine, including more than 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, over 5,000 Javelin anti-armor systems, hundreds of Switchblade drones and more than 50 million rounds of ammunition.
Zelenskyy hails Russia's suspension from U.N. human rights body
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday the United Nations General Assembly's vote to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council was an "important step" in holding Vladimir Putin's government accountable for its alleged atrocities across Ukraine.
"Suspending RF’s participation in the #UNHCR is an important step," Zelenskyy said in a tweet, using an initialism for the Russian Federation. "This is another punishment for RF’s aggression against [Ukraine]."
"We must continue coordinated pressure on RF at all international forums," he added. "Let’s force Russia to seek peace together!"
The U.S.-led push to suspend Russia from the U.N. human rights body drew 93 votes in favor, while 24 countries voted no and 58 abstained.
26 bodies found under two ruined buildings in Borodyanka
Twenty-six bodies were found under two ruined buildings in the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv, a Ukrainian government official said.
"It is difficult to predict how many victims there will be at the moment. Only from under the rubble of two bombed-out apartment buildings, 26 bodies were recovered," Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on Facebook.
"The enemy insidiously attacked the housing infrastructure in the evening, when there were a maximum of people at home," she added. "The target was exclusively civilians — there is no military facility here."
Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but Ukrainians, as well as eyewitnesses, journalists and humanitarian organizations, have reported seeing civilians slaughtered across the country.
More than 4,600 people evacuated from Ukraine today
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, said 4,676 people were evacuated from the country Thursday.
Russians said to have shelled key part of Ukrainian railway in Donetsk
Russian President Vladimir Putin's troops shelled a vital part of a Ukrainian railway near the city of Barvinkove in Donetsk Oblast, blocking more than 500 people from evacuating, the governor of Luhansk said.
"Russians have completely destroyed the only railway evacuation route controlled by Ukraine leading from Kramatorsk, Sloviansk and Liman," Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said. "This was the route of life to dozens of thousands of our citizens."
Haidai added that three evacuation trains were blocked in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk and that "more than 500 evacuees from Luhansk are blocked at a nearby railway station."
"Russians are not letting people leave the war zone, doing the same as they did with Mariupol," Haidai said.
Kremlin spokesman admits ‘significant’ Russian losses, denies war crimes
Russia has suffered “significant losses of troops” in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.
“It is a huge tragedy for us,” Peskov told British broadcaster Sky News without elaborating on how many of its armed forces Russia had lost since it invaded its neighbor on Feb. 24. (Sky News is owned by Comcast, the parent company of NBC News.)
He added that Russia had withdrawn its forces from the areas surrounding Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv “as an act of goodwill to lift tension from those regions and to show Russia is ready to create comfortable conditions for the continuation of negotiations.”
However, he insisted that the besieged southern city of Mariupol would be “liberated” from what he called “nationalistic” Ukrainian battalions.
To justify Russia’s assault on Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders have claimed the action was taken to “denazify” the country and its leadership.
Confronted with pictures from the town of Bucha, where Ukrainian officials estimate hundreds of civilians have been killed, houses have been destroyed and graves have been dug in backyards, Peskov denied that Russian troops “had something in common with these atrocities and dead bodies.”
Calling the photos “fakes,” he said they “were made after Russian troops had withdrawn from the region.”
In a first, Doctors Without Borders medical staffers use 'medical evacuation train'
Doctors Without Borders medical staff members are traveling on trains with injured Ukrainians evacuating from the war-torn country in what an employee said was a first for the aid group.
"For the first time in our history, we've organized a medical evacuation train," Christopher Stokes, the emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine, said Thursday in an interview with MSNBC.
Because "a lot of medical infrastructures have been hit" by Russian forces, Stokes said, Doctors Without Borders employees are evacuating patients "to safer areas."
U.N. General Assembly votes to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council
The U.N. General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over accusations that its military committed atrocities in Ukraine.
The resolution, proposed by Ukraine, the U.S., the United Kingdom and other U.N. members, expressed "grave concern" about reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” and “violations of international humanitarian law” by Russia as factors supporting suspension.
Ninety-three countries voted to expel Russia, while 24 voted against the measure and 58 abstained. The resolution required a two-thirds majority vote for adoption.
Ukraine's ambassador to the U.N., Sergiy Kyslytsya, said before the vote that the U.N. should be named "Titanic" if it didn't "take action to save the council from sinking."
Russia's representative spoke out against the resolution, as did those of other countries accused of human rights abuses, including Syria, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.
Ukraine military official: Russia will soon try to take control of Donetsk, Luhansk regions
Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces will soon try to take control of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, a Ukrainian military official said Thursday.
Oleksandr Gruzevych, the deputy chief of staff of Ukraine's land forces, said he expects Russian troops to also try to "reattack" the capital, Kyiv.
"The situation remains tense because the enemy has retreated and is now refocusing its directions and will soon try to take control of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and then we expect a re-attack on the capital," Gruzevych said.
He added that the Ukrainian military is taking measures to ramp up equipment and train personnel.
Japan to release 16M barrels of oil to help stabilize market
Japan plans to release some 16 million barrels of oil reserves as part of a coordinated push by members of the International Energy Agency to help stabilize a global market that has been upended by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the country's prime minister announced Thursday.
"Stabilizing the energy market is very crucial, and while we will continue to call on oil-producing countries [for their cooperation], Japan will promptly do what it can," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters Thursday.
President Joe Biden announced last week that the U.S. will release 1 million barrels per day of crude oil for six months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — the largest release in U.S. history.
Vitriol for Putin on the streets of Hostomel
HOSTOMEL, Ukraine — Rima Tarnagodska, 56, survived the terrifying Russian occupation and constant shelling of her hometown of Hostomel, a northern suburb of Kyiv that is also home to a strategic airfield that Russia had hoped to capture from the start of the invasion on Feb. 24.
But her neighbor’s husband did not; he was killed by a shrapnel wound.
Walking through the city’s devastated streets with her bike Wednesday, Rima said she basically has everything she needs now that she got some food. But housing is a problem because she is living with three families in one house.
She didn’t mince words about who she blames for the terror she lived through: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
“He’s a jacka--,” she said through a translator. “I wish him to be dead.”
Boston Marathon bans runners from Russia, Belarus
Athletes from Russia and Belarus accepted to compete in this year’s Boston Marathon who are currently residing in either country will no longer be allowed to participate, the Boston Marathon Association announced Wednesday.
The exclusion from the world’s oldest annual marathon also extends to athletes previously accepted into the B.A.A.’s 5K event. However, it doesn’t affect Russian or Belarusian athletes registered for the events who are not residents of the countries. They will be allowed to compete but won’t be able to run under their country’s flag.
“Like so many around the world, we are horrified and outraged by what we have seen and learned from the reporting in Ukraine,” B.A.A. president and CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement. “We believe that running is a global sport, and as such, we must do what we can to show our support to the people of Ukraine.”
The B.A.A. said it won’t recognize the country affiliation or flags of Russia and Belarus until further notice. This year’s Boston Marathon, 5K, and Invitational Mile do not include any professional or invited athletes from those countries.
Read the full story here.
Mariupol 'absolutely destroyed,' mayor's advisor says
Buildings and infrastructure in the besieged city of Mariupol have been "absolutely destroyed" by Russian forces, according to the advisor to the city's mayor Petro Andrushenko.
“Now people must to live inside the basement, inside the shelters. It’s absolutely impossible for everyone,” Andrushenko told CNN, describing Russian troops keeping residents inside the city like "hostages."
The advisor also described "filtration camps" and checkpoints set up by Russian troops to process residents being evacuated from the city via humanitarian corridors.
Around 100,000 people have been evacuated out of the city through humanitarian corridors, the advisor said.
Russia’s financial system has ‘withstood’ the ‘sanctions storm,’ prime minister says
As sanctions from the West continued to pile up against Russia, the country's prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, maintained in his annual address Thursday that the Russian economy has so far "withstood" the "sanctions storm."
“The authors of this strategy expected that the sanctions storm would destroy our economy in a few days. Their scenario didn’t come true,” he said. "We have — withstood. Our financial system have withstood."
“Unfriendly countries have not come up with anything better than to return to the typical pirate practice. By freezing assets, they actually robbed the country," he said.
Countries including the U.S., U.K. and the E.U. were quick to freeze Russia’s assets abroad after it began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Addressing companies that have suspended operations in Russia, he said that Moscow remained “open to constructive dialogue."
Senate to vote on stripping Russia’s trade status, oil ban
The Senate is expected to vote on legislation Thursday that would suspend normal trade relations between the U.S. and Russia, a move that President Joe Biden called for in March.
Lawmakers will also vote on a bill to codify a ban on oil imports from Russia, which follows the Biden administration’s implementation of those sanctions last month.
Negotiators had worked for several weeks on the measures, but some senators had delayed the process over objections to certain provisions.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday on the Senate floor that “it’s a big, big deal that we are finally getting them done.”
Russian troops in village outside Kyiv 'looked like hobos'
LUBYANKA, Ukraine — Russian troops were in the small village of Lubyanka, about 35 miles north of Kyiv, for 38 days. They entered the city on the second day of the Russian invasion, February 25.
In addition to terrifying the local population for over five weeks, Viktor Lupanov, 31, says the ill-equipped soldiers nearly stole everything in sight.
“They practically looked like hobos,” said Lupanov. “They, like, stole my shoes, very old shoes. They stole it because they had nothing to wear.”
Lupanov said his wife, Anastasiia Lupanova, 32, was so relieved when she saw the first Ukrainian troops enter their town, signaling the end of the invasion, that she burst into tears and wanted to hug every one of them.
Russia summons Finnish ambassador after seizure of art
Russia’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the Finnish ambassador to Moscow on Thursday to protest Helsinki’s decision to seize works of art belonging to Russian museums, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Finnish customs said on Wednesday they had stopped works of art worth around $46 million from being returned to Russia last weekend due to European Union sanctions, and would consult with Brussels on their status as luxury goods.
Russian foreign ministry said the "cultural property" detained by Finland was in transit through Finland after being exhibited in Italy and Japan "under state guarantees of inviolability and return of valuables to the Russian Federation," according to Interfax.
“What is happening cannot be called anything but legal lawlessness," the agency quoted the ministry as saying. "The return of cultural property that was abroad legally as part of the cooperation of museums cannot be subject to restrictions."
G-7 condemns 'atrocities' in Bucha, says those responsible will be 'held accountable'
The Group of Seven industrial nations condemned the "atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces" in Bucha “in the strongest terms” on Thursday.
In a joint statement following NATO discussions in Brussels on Thursday, the G-7 said: “We will continue to promote accountability for all those complicit in Moscow’s war of choice, including the Lukashenka regime in Belarus.”
The G-7 foreign ministers said those responsible for “heinous” atrocities in Ukraine will be “held accountable and prosecuted” as it called for Russia to be removed from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
They also warned Russia against the use of any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, calling such use “unacceptable” and having “severe consequences."
Work begins in Lviv on first container town for displaced Ukrainians
Building has begun on the first container town to temporarily host displaced Ukrainians in Lviv, according to its mayor.
The planned development will consist of 70 housing containers with the capacity to accommodate over 350 people, Mayor Andriy Sadovyy said in a statement on his official Telegram channel.
Sadovyy thanked the Polish government and the Ukrainian minister for regional development for their support.
The housing containers will be fitted to host 2-4 people, and will provide furnishing, light and heat while communal bathrooms and a dining room will be within the container town. Several such towns are planned for the Lviv area.
People arrive Wednesday at a center for those displaced by the war in Zaporizhzhia, some 124 miles northwest of Mariupol.
E.U. Parliament votes in favor of immediate embargo on Russian gas and oil
The European Parliament has voted in favor of an immediate embargo on Russian gas and oil by an overwhelming majority.
Out of 554 members present, 513 members voted in favor of the resolution calling for additional punitive measures on Thursday, while 22 voted against and 19 abstained.
The resolution calls for “an immediate full embargo on Russian imports of oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas," the European Parliament said in a press release.
"The people of Europe refuse to finance the murder of our Ukrainian fellow citizens. The European Council should listen," Spanish member of the European Parliament Luis Garicano tweeted after the vote.
Spotify to fully suspend services in Russia on April 11
Spotify’s services in Russia will come to an end on April 11, the streaming service said on Thursday.
The company had shuttered its Russian offices in early March, restricting the discoverability of shows operated by Russian state-affiliated media and removing all content by RT and Sputnik from its platforms.
However, it kept its services available citing the importance of “the global flow of information." But after the enactment of a broad “fake news” law, which threatened jail terms for spreading "false information" about Russian forces, Spotify announced its decision of a complete suspension on March 25.
“Unfortunately, recently enacted legislation further restricting access to information, eliminating free expression, and criminalizing certain types of news puts the safety of Spotify’s employees and possibly even our listeners at risk,” it said.
Supplying weapons to Ukraine ‘will have a negative effect’ on negotiations, Peskov says
Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine will suffer if the supply of weaponry to Ukraine continues, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.
“Pumping up Ukraine with various types of weapons does not contribute to success in Russian-Ukrainian negotiations. Rather, it will have a negative effect,” he said.
Western nations, including the U.S., have supplied Ukraine with anti-tank missiles, guns, and killer drones, amongst other forms of military aid. On Tuesday, the Biden administration pledged $100 million in Javelin anti-tank missiles after repeated pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for more weapons.
Peskov also condemned growing sanctions against Russia, saying they were "a continuation of the frantic line on the introduction of new restrictions." He appeared to specifically address the U.S.'s decision to impose sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughters, calling such penalties "difficult to understand and explain."
Greece to seek war crimes probe over Mariupol
Greece will ask the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes in the Russian-besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, home to a large Greek community, its foreign minister said on Thursday.
“Greece has a specific, special interest in Mariupol because of the existence of 100,000 and more Greek community,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told reporters upon arriving at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.
Dendias said he would also urge his colleagues to “try our best” to help Ukraine protect its historic Black Sea port of Odessa, “so Odessa can avoid the fate of Mariupol." The Greek Foreign Minister visited Odessa last weekend.
Shell says Russia exit has already cost as much as $5 billion
Shell's decision to exit Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine has already cost it as much as $5 billion, the company said on Thursday.
In a quarterly report update, it said that the expected credit losses, "onerous" contract terms as well as the depreciation of its Russian assets would cut its earnings for its first quarter of the year by $4 billion to $5 billion.
“Shell has not renewed longer-term contracts for Russian oil, and will only do so under explicit government direction,” it said, adding that the company is legally obliged to take delivery of the crude bought under existing contracts.
Last month, Shell said that it was “appalled” by the invasion, announcing exit from its joint ventures with Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom, the assets of which were valued at $3 billion.
A man watches a house burn following shelling in Severodonetsk, in the Donbas region of Ukraine on Wednesday.
As millions of Ukrainians flee war, hundreds go back home
But the more than 200 passengers waiting for the 7:23 a.m. train weren’t on their way farther from Ukraine — instead they were heading back home.
Yulia Kalinina, who was traveling with her sister so that they could be reunited with their husbands, admitted it hadn’t been an easy decision.
“I am afraid,” said Kalinina, 39, who is from Kyiv. “But I very much want to go home. I want to see my husband. I’d rather be afraid with him than be afraid alone here.”
Read the full story here.
New E.U. sanctions could be agreed Thursday or Friday, Borrell says
A fifth round of European Union sanctions on Russia, including a ban on coal imports, could be agreed by the bloc on Thursday or on Friday, the E.U.'s top diplomat Josep Borrell said.
“Maybe this afternoon, or tomorrow at the latest,” he told reporters as he arrived at a NATO meeting.
Russia focused on offensive operations in eastern Ukraine, says U.K.
Russia is focusing its efforts on progressing offensive operations in eastern Ukraine, Britain's defense ministry said Thursday.
In an intelligence update it said that Russian aerial attacks continued along the Donbas line of control in the east, adding that strikes in the interior were likely intended to “degrade the ability of Ukrainian military to resupply” and to pressure the government.
However, despite reinforcing its efforts in Donbas, Russian forces are likely to continue facing supply shortages and morale issues, it said.
More than 1,000 explosives neutralized around Kyiv, authorities say
After a round of inspection in regions around Kyiv, more than 1,000 explosives were found and neutralized, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said on Thursday.
In a Telegram post, it said the explosives were defused on Wednesday after inspecting almost 18 acres of land around Kyiv, including the city of Bucha, where Ukraine has accused Russia of committing a massacre.
Until now, almost 7,000 explosives have been identified and neutralized with 45 hectares of land examined, it said. NBC News was unable to independently verify those numbers.
Australia to impose sanctions on 67 Russians over war in Ukraine
The Australian government has announced financial sanctions and travel bans on a further 67 Russians in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
The latest round of sanctions comes after what the country's government said was the emergence of evidence of war crimes committed by Russia in the town of Bucha and other cities around capital Kyiv.
"Australia condemns these atrocities in the strongest possible terms," a statement from the government released Thursday said.
Those sanctioned include prominent Russian military official Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma, Aleksander Babakov, and other senior Russian government officials.
The latest additions make up close to 600 people and entities that the Australian government has sanctioned so far in relation to the war in Ukraine.
Three dead from artillery shelling in Kharkiv, official says
Three people have died after multiple rounds of artillery shelling destroyed houses in Kharkiv, Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional council, said on Thursday.
In a Telegram post he said, “During the day, the enemy inflicted 48 strikes with MLRS, artillery and mortars,” which destroyed civilian infrastructure. “Three artillery shelling in Balakliya killed three people and destroyed many houses,” he said. NBC News was unable to independently verify the claim.
Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians in its invasion of Ukraine.
Syniehubov said Russian forces were flanking the city from the east near the regions of Izyum and Kupyansk, utilizing the Ukrainian rail network. He said that over 15,000 people had already fled from Lozova and Barvinkove in southern Kharkiv.
Ten evacuation corridors to open in Ukraine
Ten evacuation corridors have been planned for Thursday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced on Telegram.
The planned corridors will include five evacuation routes in Luhansk as well as transport routes from Mariupol using private vehicles, she said. Additional corridors from Melitopol and Berdyansk will be facilitated by buses, Vereshchuk said.
Evacuation out of Mariupol has been extremely challenging with safe passages repeatedly attacked and blocked, Ukrainian officials have said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday that it was able to lead a convoy of buses and private cars carrying more than 500 people to Zaporizhzhia after days of difficulties trying to reach the besieged port city to help facilitate evacuations.
Austria expelling four Russian diplomats
Austria is expelling four Russian diplomats for behavior incompatible with their diplomatic status, a spokeswoman for its foreign minister said on Thursday, joining a group of European Union countries that have taken similar action this week.
Unlike those other EU countries, which include France, Italy and Germany, the spokeswoman for Alexander Schallenberg did not say the move was because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The three diplomats working at Russia’s embassy and one based in Salzburg must leave Austria by Tuesday, she said.
“The (four) people have acted in a way that is inconsistent with their diplomatic status,” the spokeswoman said in a short statement without elaborating.
Sweden, Denmark, Greece and Romania are also among the EU countries that have announced this week they are expelling Russian diplomats over the war in Ukraine. The coordinated moves came shortly after images of what appeared to be civilian bodies strewn in the streets of the Ukrainian town of Bucha caused international outrage.
Olympic and world champion Ruta Meilutyte swims across a pond colored red to signify blood, in front of the Russian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania on Wednesday.
Ukraine's foreign minister joins NATO Summit
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has joined NATO foreign ministers in Brussels for a summit Thursday on the response to Russia's invasion.
Speaking alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the talks, he said: “My agenda is very simple. It has only three items on it: It’s weapons, weapons and weapons."
“I think the deal Ukrainians are offering is fair: you give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives and the war is contained in Ukraine. This is it," he said.
He further said Ukraine would continue to push the West for an oil and gas embargo on Russia, along with other measures.